Nathan and I met up with Sam this afternoon in the Number 1 cafe in Soho, which is about the only place I recognise in those parts these days. They do an amazing two course meal deal there for just over a tenner, so we ate like kings.
We rolled out of the cafe and headed towards Regent's Street, passing the sad, old neon signs for Madam Jojos and Raymond Review Bar, which have started to look incredibly tatty. That was the Soho I knew and I mourn its loss. Not really for me - I'm too old for all of that stuff these days - but because the young people I know won't ever get a chance to experience how exciting that world was. It was like being part of the most brilliant club. A club filled with actors, sex workers, fashionistas and LGBT people of all colours, shapes and sizes.
We popped into Trailfinders to talk to a lovely chap called Scott about the fabulous once-in-a-lifetime trip we're planning for next summer which will see us traveling across the United States from San Fransisco to New York. We wanted to check that we weren't going out of our minds thinking it was achievable on the budget that we'd imagined. It turns out our guesstimates were fairly on the money, if not a little too pessimistic, so we left feeling somewhat elated and excited by be prospect.
We decided to take ourselves for a little walk through St James' Park, but my knowledge of the geography of that part of town is nonexistent and it turned out that everyone was following me. We ended up somewhere between Marble Arch and Hyde Park Corner, wondering how on earth we'd ended up so far away from where we thought we were going. Still, it wasn't really about the destination. We wanted a walk, and we got one. And now I know what Mayfair looks like. Not my bag. Too fancy.
We walked along the side of Green Park, and sat in a cafe whilst Sam talked about his fondness for pretty much everything attached to Japanese culture. He even practises origami. I admitted to a fundamental hatred of oriental art in all of its guises, but Sam's keenness was infectious enough for me to question why that stuff doesn't float my boat. I think it's to do with precision. For me art is passion, emotion and broad strokes in fiery colours which is almost the antithesis of Japanese art.
We walked across Green Park. All the entrances are now attack-proof with giant yellow metal structures which you have to walk through, or around. One assumes this has something to do with the Queen's 90th birthday rather than a state of terrorist red alert which no one is telling us about.
From Green Park, we passed Buckingham Palace and crossed over into St James' Park, where the birds seem entirely unimpressed by the people walking past. A heron was casually preening itself no more than two meters from the pavement. The pelicans in the park never cease to surprise me. They happily waddle along the pathways after joggers and women pushing prams. Quite what they're expecting I've no idea. I personally forgot to bring my little bag of fish offal.
We ended up walking through Horse Guard's Parade, which is the most touristy thing I've done in years. I thought how bewildered a lot of the tourists there looked. I guess there's nothing to see but a large expanse of gravel and sand. I think tourists very often "do" somewhere without really knowing why they're doing it. I'm not sure we knew why we were there. Probably because it was the fastest route back to Charing Cross. I told Sam I was going to take his photo with one of the guardsmen on their horses in those funny little boxes on Whitehall. He was horrified, but when we got there, the boxes were bare. I thought they were meant to be there at all times? Obviously not.